What do you want to be? Who do you want to be?

We ask these crucial, life-defining questions to each other from the earliest days of comprehension; questions that promise and prompt us to be someone that matters.  For the ten Rukmini Foundation (RF) Scholars who are recent Secondary Education Examination (SEE) Graduates, these questions have been forefront as they set a path for their future. And living in a collectivist society where community and family play a strong role in life decisions, the scholars had many conflicting ideas and thoughts about what to pursue beyond SEE.

To celebrate our recent SEE graduates and to support them while they ask and answer these crucial questions about their future, Rukmini Foundation organized a SEEing Beyond High School event. The name was inspired with the hopes of helping the recent and future SEE graduate make future education choices based on their own interest and strengths, and  the event provided the scholars with an opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns regarding higher education and their future.

With Mrs. Ceinwen King Smith as an international guest mentor, the event was the first of its kind. The event also allowed for Rukmini scholars who are current SEE candidates to connect with recent SEE graduates. Various Rukmini mentors like Nabin Aryal (Rukmini Advisor), Ritu Ap (Rukmini Didi) and Prakriti Nepal (Didi and mentor) were present to share their own their personal journey and experience with higher education.

We kicked off the celebration with Ritu Ap Didi congratulating the new Rukmini SEE graduates and by putting tika, and giving fresh flowers and friendship band to the new graduates. Congratulating the new SEE graduates, Mr. Shashi Sharma Aryal reminded the graduates that SEE was not the end of their education but the start of their future studies.

“It opens the door for further study. We should study what we like the most and if we work hard, we can make our life a success in every step. Do not get worry about your grade. If you did not get GPA Grade highest you can do better in grade 11 and 12.

Mr. Shashi Sharma encouraged the scholars to not look back into the past grades but to look forward to future opportunities and to pick an education path that the scholars felt passionate about. This sentiment was echoed throughout the event by various mentors and scholars as they encouraged the recent Rukmini graduates to pursue education based on their own interest and not under social pressure.

One past SEE graduate and Rukmini Scholar, Ms. Salina Shrestha shared with the scholars how she had experienced uncertainty about her future education as a new SEE graduate. She told the scholars that they were not alone in being uncertain about what to do for the future. They should not just give in to family pressure to be a doctor, engineer, nurse or any other career they are being pushed to pursue.

Salina encouraged the recent graduates to persevere through the frustration experienced by the constant bombardment of  “ what subject will you study? Which college will you join”? Instead, the graduates should follow their interest and strength when choosing an area of study. Despite the suggestion from her family to become a nurse, a career Salina had no interest in, she told the scholars that she waited for her course grades to look at her strengths and ultimately decided to join Management program for her future studies.

We share and help each other grow

Nisha Bishunkhe, an RF Volunteer, and an Undergraduate student also added the story of her experience when she was choosing her subject of study as a recent graduate. She told the Bahini scholars that she had initially wanted to study Journalism in hopes of becoming a VJ or an RJ. However, due to financial concerns, she decided to study Education and become a teacher. She shared with the recent graduates that she did not let her SEE scores discourage her from pursuing further education. While most of her family and elders suggested Nisha choose Humanities as her degree program, based on her grades, she worked hard to earn herself a place in the Faculty of Education for her schooling.

Nisha remarked that many students in our society feel they must go on to study Science or Management if they secure good grades while Humanities and Arts are the appropriate options if their grades aren’t too high. Nisha told the scholars that such thoughts are antiquated and 

“We have to change such thinking. If our aim is to be a teacher then we should choose Education faculty. The different faculties are so vast with many interesting subjects and you should not let your grades dictate what faculty you join. Many students think if they will get in trouble if they do not study Science or Management when they have good grades. It is not true. You should follow your goal/aim.”

Rukmini Advisor, Nabin Aryal also encouraged the scholars to choose a subject that reflects their interest, not other’s pressure. Sharing his story, he told the scholars about his own journey into higher education.

“When I got 1st division in School Leaving Certification (SLC), all of my family members forced me to study Science and I was admitted in Amrit Science Campus. As I did not like the subject, I was in the course only for few days and switched to Humanities Faculty. There I was able to pursue my studies with more interest and  was able to succeed in life because I followed my interest with determination and hard work.”

RF Didi, Prakriti Nepal too shared her own story and experience of social and family pressure when she was choosing a path for her higher education. She said:

“I am reminded me of the days when I graduated from school after SLC (before SEE was called School Leaving Certificate (SLC)when we were so naive and did not have idea on what to study next. I wish we also had similar motivation session like our scholars did because session turned out to be guideline for the scholars to know different sectors that they can be enrolled based on their interest.”

She encouraged the new graduates to talk to their parents and family about the fields that interest them and what they want to study, and to follow their passion.

With many such stories from various mentors and other scholars, the new graduates got encouragement to pursue their personal dreams and interest in higher education. After encouraging conversation with Rukmini mentors, Senior scholars and Didi’s at the program, recent graduates and current SEE scholars shared among the group their aspirations for higher education in various sectors.

One scholar, Tuslrim, stated with conviction, “I am determined to pursue the subject that I have interest in. I want to study management and make my career in management.

Mrs. Ceinwen King-Smith congratulates the new SEE graduates

At the end of the event, guest speaker Mrs. Ceinwen King Smith shared a beautiful story Jade from Chinese folk lore. The main theme of the story was the importance of identifying personal passion for every students. She told the students that while they should listen to the thoughts and advice of their family/friends, the final decision should be their own. They should not pick a career based on external opinion or because of social expectations. She told the scholars that anyone can be successful in their life if they follow their passion and work hard. 

This celebration helped the new graduates relish in their success and think about their own dreams for future education. Further, we observed feelings of sisterhood and mentorship with past SEE graduate, new SEE graduates and current SEE scholars all supporting and helping each other as they talked about their interests and education goals. The celebration became very meaningful mentoring Didi program, where older Didi scholars helped and motivated younger Bahini Scholars to understand their capabilities, interests and goals as they choose a path to higher education.

We at the Rukmini Foundation look forward to many similar celebrations where we get together and applaud the success of our scholars, and help them embark onto higher education and a successful future.

About Pallavi Gyawali

Pallavi aspires to work towards social development in intercultural communities and currently works for a non-profit organization to promote healthy lifestyle in different cultural groups of her community. She has a degree in Sociology and hopes to further her education in the field of social development and social justice. She is an avid reader and takes inspiration from various world literature, which reflects in her writing and thoughts on community development.
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